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Virgin Hotels boosts its growth

Virgin Group has only 5 hotels for now but things are about to change with the opening of three new properties this year as well as the development of a new plan to focus more on resorts and residential opportunities.

Virgin has opened four hotels over the last years and wants to continue its expansion with the opening of three new properties. Hotels in Edinburgh and Glasgow are set to open this spring while a 460-room ground-up New York City property opens this summer. This latter will feature F&B outlets as well as a rooftop bar. A mixed-use deal is also done in Miami then two more deals should be announced soon.

Virgin shows interest in several markets such as Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, alongside a bigger focus on Europe with London for instance. James Bermingham, CEO of Virgin Hotels, said that he would love to add Cape Town and Johannesburg to the portfolio of the group.

A portfolio that shows a remarkable growth in market share during the pandemic, 38% in 2020 and 40% in 2021. Furthermore, the F&B revenue per occupied room was 190% of the brand’s comp sets on average, which really helped with cashflow during the health crisis.

For the next three to four years coming, Virgin wants to develop resorts in North America and Europe with the ambition to mitigate market volatility. According to James Bermingham the group is « looking at the beach, coastal, mountain and desert resorts ». Virgin is actively looking in London, Spain, Portugal and the south of France as they are preferred destinations resorts.

Virgin also sees an opportunity in conversions, based on the success of Las Vegas. The other opportunity of growth which interests the group is residential. The first residential development is with a developer in Miami with over 300 residences and a 200-room hotel with multiple food and beverage operations, co-work space and more. Two additional residential projects are also in the pipeline. 

If you want to be a serious player, you have to have a branded presidential platform, and we’re developing that as we speak. 

James Bermingham, CEO of Virgin Hotels

In addition, 2022 will see the enhancement of Virgin’s Lucy app, where consumers can already make reservations, check-in, use keyless entry or order room service. The group is adding cashless tipping to its app which is already exhaustive. And this fall Virgin will launch a wide rewards program called « Virgin Red ».

Richard [Branson] doesn’t distinguish between work and play – it’s just life. That has really inspired three projects that we’re working on right now. Within those three projects, there is potential for a membership club and a social club component – those have probably been the biggest changes in consumer behavior that we’re responding to in a pretty big way. 

James Bermingham, CEO of Virgin Hotels

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